Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger; it has strong roots in human evolution. If people didn’t feel fear, they couldn’t protect themselves from legitimate threats, which in the ancestral world frequently resulted in life-or-death consequences. In the modern world, individuals often fear situations where the stakes are much lower, but their body and brain still treat the threat as lethal. This can trigger an extreme, and often unnecessary, fight-flight-or-freeze response. As a result, people may find themselves avoiding challenges that could benefit them in the long run or hanging back during social interactions for no good reason. When people today do face deadly or extreme danger, it can sometimes cause lingering trauma. These traumas can trigger a fear response that is hard to quell, even when the risk has passed.
At the Root of Fear
Moving Past Fear
In the past, human ancestors feared immediate danger, from volcano eruptions to hungry predators. Common fears today have more to do with the impression people make and how others' judgments affect their self-worth, a hyper-focus on image that is only exacerbated by the rise of the internet and social media culture. Managing fears is confusing when they don't necessarily correlate with a clear or obvious danger. When they do—in cases of severe trauma, sexual or otherwise—finding ways to let go of fears and pursue positivity can help. Often, exposure to personal demons is the best way to move past them.